Glory Pro: Phoenix Rising – 2nd Anniversary

New Glory Pro heads Danny Adams and a currently-injured Kevin Lee Davidson celebrated a full year of ownership of one of the Midwest’s hottest promotion with another great card at the new home venue on Sunday, February 24. The card had a few last minute changes due to injuries and an emergency cancellation from headliner Jody Fleisch, but was still extremely strong on paper. Fleisch is a legend, certainly, but was replaced by recent AAA Cruiserweight Champion and sometimes AAA English commentator Australian Suicide, who is quite honestly the superior wrestler in 2019. It was another IWTV show, and I think it’s been for the best that the cameras have kept the bookings much tighter than in the past.

I called last month’s show the best show in Glory Pro’s history and they beat that mark again this month. The card was just a teensy bit stronger and the matches just slightly better up and down. It was subtle, but it was better. I was looking forward to seeing both the debuts of Jody Threat and Sheldon Jean in singles action, but the reshuffling pushed them into a tornado instead. No matter, they still managed to impress in short action. Other debuts included O’Shea Edwards, Tom Lawlor, Halal Beefcake, The Four Star Heroes (Matt Knicks & Chris Castro), and the aforementioned Australian Suicide.

The opener was a ripper of a gauntlet match between GPW house favorite “Warhorse” Jake Parnell, O’Shea Edwards, and the currently feuding Jake Something and AJ Gray. It was a great opener that built well upon the story that AJ and Jake are servicing. After was maybe my most anticipated match on the card between a couple of real-life shooters, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez. They absolutely knocked it out of the park with a brilliant match that highlighted their outstanding fighting abilities. Gutierrez had on the previous Thursday, worked what was widely reported as a banger match against Jeremy Wyatt at Journey Pro in Kansas City and followed up with this a few days later. With having a promising MMA career, Gutierrez has to keep his weight down but I firmly believe he could be a star if he gains some weight and looks more intimidating. He has all the tools. Lawlor, who recently retired from professional MMA, can roid out and get huge and blow up in wrestling now.

A few welcome returns over the next few matches were Impact Wrestling’s Hakim Zane and Ethan Page, both of whom received loud pops. Page filled in wonderfully as the extra Bestie for Davey Vega, who was injured at Over the Top in Ireland. He spent a lot of the match calling out to Vega for advice on how to tag wrestle, which was extremely funny. He’s going to be back in March for the Pentagon and Fenix show and everyone could not be happier. Su Yung and Seishin was another great match and I thought this was easily the best singles match I’d seen from the former Tootie Lynn Ramsey. Castro & Knicks did their job but their match against No New Friends was basically a push to establish them as characters. I look forward to their return in a longer match as this one was a bit of an eject, but still entertaining.

The co-main was the 2 falls blowoff of the shockingly good 3 month back-and-forth between Paco Gonzalez and Eddie Kingston. I called their last encounter easily the best match of the show and this one was the same. Paco scored an early fall but Kingston was able to overcome injury and shocking brutality from former underdog babyface Paco to take the 2/3 to win the series. Paco won Kingston’s respect but it was not enough to satisfy him, attacking Kingston’s injured knee after the match to complete the full heel turn. Folks, there’s really no overemphasizing what an underrated wrestler Eddie Kingston is. I think everyone knows that he’s one of the best promos in the business but he’s so efficient and precise in the ring also. For as long as he decides to stick around, we are extremely blessed to have him.

The main of GPW champ Curt Stallion v Australian Suicide was another in the “International Series” and I have to say this one was slightly better than last month’s tussle between Stallion and Bandido. They had a little better chemistry in this one and it led to a tighter match. We have one more month of this series coming up, and while the belt isn’t absolutely crucial in a promotion like this, I’ll be glad to see GPW get back to having the belt actually in play. Overall, another great show, so I have to give this one a slight uptick from the last one.

Show Rating: B

Match Ratings

AJ Gray v O’Shea Edwards v Jake Parnell v Jake Something – 1+

Anthony Gutierrez v Tom Lawlor – 2

Shane Sabre v Hakim Zane – 1

Alpha Omega v Halal Beefcake v Barackus & Aaron Orion – 1

United Glory Tag Team Championship: Bestegos (Mat Fitchett & Ethan Page) (c) v Stephen Wolf & Myron Reed – 1+


Allie Kat v Sheldon Jean v Kody Lane v Jody Threat v Mark Wheeler v Jake Lander – 1+

Seishin (fka Tootie Lynn Ramsey) v Su Yung – 1+

Four Star Heroes (Matt Knicks & Chris Castro) v No New Friends (Danny Adams & Mike Outlaw) – 0+

2 Falls: Paco Gonzalez v Eddie Kingston – 2

Crown of Glory International Series: Curt Stallion (c) v Australian Suicide – 1+

6 People AEW Should Hire

Surely there’s already been a hundred of these articles from the standpoint of fantasy booking All Elite Wrestling prior to their first event. I’m no different, really, I’ve had tons of ideas about wrestlers they should bring in and partnerships they should make, but lately my interests have turned more toward ideas about who would be the biggest long term assets for the promotion both in the ring and backstage. These people could certainly all contribute in the ring but their value goes far beyond ring work and could help AEW begin to develop their own stars and really excel for the long haul. Here are six of the best hires I could imagine for the new company.

Timothy Thatcher

Timothy Thatcher at PWG – copyright Esther Lin

Timothy Thatcher is a mainstay on the US and Euro indy circuit where’s he’s developed a good level of fame as Walter’s right hand man in Ringkampf. This is probably not fair to the longest reigning EVOLVE champ, but there’s no denying that his time in Ringkampf added a certain brutality he was maybe lacking to truly stand out before. With the rest of Ringkampf fleeing to NXT UK (and Alexander Wolfe absent from television but theoretically on the Smackdown roster), this is Thatcher’s year to truly shine.

Despite Walter’s impressive brutality and Axel Dieter’s smooth technical wizardry, Thatcher was probably the most complete wrestler of the group. With his diverse and technical style, the 35 year old Thatcher has plenty of good years ahead, but he’s also been heavily involved in the wXw training program and could be a great mentor to young wrestlers.

Mercedes Martinez

Long before she became known to the wider public in the first Mae Young Classic, Mercedes Martinez was choking out women from coast to coast in many promotions, becoming one of the most respected technical wrestlers in the business. Despite being 38, her relatively safe, submission heavy style means she might be extend her peak another decade and stay a force into her late 40s a la Minoru Suzuki. She is also highly respected as a trainer and personality and her skills outside the ring could lead her to excel in many aspects of the business.

Jimmy Jacobs

Jimmy Jacobs’s best ring years are well behind him but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a force in many areas. He was a respected creative in WWE and ROH, coming up with the List of Jericho and being the driving force behind the Lacey and Jimmy saga, arguably the best long term storyline in the history of ROH. The Zombie Princess has a great relationship with a lot of the locker room and could be a good leader to young wrestlers, having successfully navigated some tricky personal issues in his long career.

He can bump when needed but Jacobs would be a killer manager for a faction in AEW. He is also a well-respected booker, helping book both AAW and RISE, and a huge booster of women’s wrestling in general. He has so many skills that it seems silly not to just snatch him up and let him find a niche.

Ethan Page

I have no idea what Ethan Page’s contract status with the perpetually cursed Impact Wrestling is, or if he is even available for television, but I feel he’s only just now hitting his peak despite memorable runs in EVOLVE and other indie promotions. He has massive charisma, is funny as hell, seems to be a positive force wherever he goes, and is in the best shape of his career. He’s probably never going to be in the title mix, but he’s a great midcard chase guy who the crowd will get behind. Page also is a respected booker, setting up the brilliant battle royal at All In and booking at the Canadian promotion Alpha-1. He’s only 29 and just now touching his full power, so if you locked him up to a long term deal you’d be getting the entire peak of his career.

Melissa Anderson

Melissa Anderson’s career has been so long and significant, there’s no real way to quickly recap it. She has one of the longest Wikipedia articles of any current wrestler. She’s still near her peak and can do literally anything you could possibly imagine in a ring or storyline. It’s an absolute crime she’s not one of the most well-known women in wrestling history as only maybe a handful of wrestlers, and maybe no American ones can match her total résumé. She is the only person on this list and the only person in AEW other than Kenny Omega who can claim a #1 ranking in the PWI list. Only where she’s accomplished these feats have kept her from being a household name. AEW would change that. Anderson is additionally, like almost everyone else in this list, highly respected for her training and out-of-ring work. You could not have a better mentor for the young women of AEW.

Hallowicked (Robert Goodwin)

The turning point, in my opinion, in the long march toward WWE having quality matches again has been moving from the old regional development system to the Performance Center in Orlando and NXT. There’s been many people to thank for that, but the name you hear brought up the most is Sara Amato. Amato is now the assistant head coach at the PC, and the PC is informed largely by Chikara’s Wrestle Factory. You could pick any number of brilliant trainers from the Factory but the reason I pick Robert Goodwin, better known by his nom de guerre Hallowicked, is that he’s the best wrestler amongst them in 2019. He is still a devastating force in the ring and would be an extremely high value wrestler and someone who could help institute a development system on par with any promotion in the world.

DDT: Judgement 2019 ~ DDT Raising an Army 22nd Anniversary ~ Review

This past weekend was another glorious free live stream of the other major DDT show than Peter Pan, the anniversary show Judgement. The card reads like a damn fantasy booking for fans of Japanese wrestling–almost everyone was on this thing! While it had the typical problem of a lot of the DDT shows of a lot of the jokes being impenetrable if you don’t speak Japanese, I’ve learned to just let the weirdness wash over me and the wrestling more than made up for it.

Apart from the opener (did not log on early enough to see the pre-show), everything is good. Honestly even the first match wasn’t bad, it’s just that Jason Kincaid is a walking exercise in how not to appeal to me. Not a hunk, weird-ass no psychology botch-heavy style, new age gimmick, incredibly dorky tattoo. Can’t get into it, despite enjoying seeing Space Monkey get booked on big shows.

The Iron Man Heavy Metal Gauntlet was weird on paper and even weirder in reality, but was absolutely wonderful. The right person won, got to show off her incredible new finisher, and then blessed the booth with some extremely good commentary until the break. It was also most people’s first exposure to Maku Donaruto and, holy fuck. Donaruto is basically a psychotic rapist version of Ronald McDonald that works in a strange comedy promotion called Udon Pro and I was actually impressed that DDT would put a gimmick that is so commercially hostile on a major card.

Say what you will, but at least Yuni was long gone

Beef boy battle followed and was predictably excellent. There was a cool trivia attached that one of the wrestlers was Taiho’s grandson making his debut in Ryogoku Sumo Hall. I’ll watch anything with Daisuke Sekimoto anyway. Following this was a match that I was looking forward to between T-Hawk and Akito that simply did not go well. They had little chemistry and the entire end of the match was bizarre and confusing, even for DDT standards. Danshoku Dino’s match accompanied by Pokotan was wonderful, one of the best comedy matches of the year. Watching the other team kick Pokotan’s head in was one of the highlights of the night.

The six-man hardcore really punched above its weight. I fell in love with Takumi Iroha during the SEAdLINNNG tournament and she teamed with DAMNATION in this match against her mentor Chigusa Nagayo, deathmatch legend Ryuji Ito, and Sanshiro Takagi in full mecha paint. The crowd was absolutely batshit for Nagayo. She is obviously somewhat limited in 2019 but women were screaming for her like it was 1992 all over again. The match was exceptionally fun and Iroha got put over huge. I didn’t count but Soma Takao had to have gotten at least 15 containers smashed over his head.

MAO and Mike Bailey defended their tag belts after the break and proved why they are one of the best in the world. This is one of the great sprint matches of the year thus far and a must see. Following this was a surprisingly great defense of the Extreme Title by Shinya Aoki, who it must be reiterated always, has limited puro training.

The semi-main of Naomichi Marifuji versus Tetsuya Endo was honestly a disappointment, and not because of Endo. Marifuji has to change up his style more because his physical condition is obviously declining. He can still do a lot but this match did not play to his strengths and the ending felt like a bit of a botch. Endo looked like a world beater and probably needs to be back in the title picture soon.

Headlining was the KO-D Title match of Konosuke Takeshita and Daisuke Sasaki. Everything leading up to this told me that Takeshita was going over, and arguably Sasaki did not get the run he should have with the belt. As a standalone event though, this is one of the best matches of the year. Insane, brutal spots throughout and incredible drama until the final three count. It was a fitting end to another DDT big show that delivered from beginning to end.

Show Rating: A-

Match Ratings

ALL OUT (Shunma Katsumata & Space Monkey) & Yuki Ueno vs. Antonio Honda, Jason Kincaid & Naomi Yoshimura – 0+

DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Title Gauntlet Battle Royal – ASUKA (c) vs. Chinsuke Nakamura vs. El Lindaman vs. Gorgeous Matsuno vs. Gota Ihashi vs. Hoshitango vs. Kazuki Hirata vs. Keisuke Okuda vs. Makoto Oishi vs. Maku Donaruto vs. Mina Shirakawa vs. Saki Akai vs. Scorpio X 2 vs. Super Sasadango Machine vs. Tomomitsu Matsunaga vs. Yasu Urano vs. Yuka Sakazaki vs. Yuni – 1+

Daisuke Sekimoto, Toru Owashi & Yuki Ino vs. Go Shiozaki, Kazusada Higuchi & Yukio Naya – 2

Akito vs. T-Hawk – 1

Danshoku Dino, KUDO & Pokotan vs. Keisuke Ishii, Kota Umeda & Mizuki Watase – 1+

Hardcore Six Man Tag Team Match: Chigusa Nagayo, Ryuji Ito & Sanshiro Takagi vs. DAMNATION (Mad Paulie & Soma Takao) & Takumi Iroha – 2

KO-D Tag Team Title Three Way Match: Moonlight Express (MAO & Mike Bailey) (c) vs. Shuten Doji (Masahiro Takanashi & Yukio Sakaguchi) vs. Strong Hearts (CIMA & Seiki Yoshioka) – 2+

DDT Extreme Title Pride On The Line Match: Shinya Aoki (c) vs. HARASHIMA – 2

Naomichi Marufuji vs. Tetsuya Endo – 1

KO-D Openweight Title Match: Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs. Konosuke Takeshita – 3!!!

New Beginning 2019 Ratings

New Beginning in Sapporo Night 1

Ren Narita v Yuya Uemura – 0+

Toa Henare & Manabu Nakanishi v Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida – 0

Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku v Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask – 1

Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa v Ryuske Taguchi, Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, & Tomoaki Honma – 1

Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, & BUSHI v Taichi, El Desperado, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 1+

SANADA v Minoru Suzuki – 2

EVIL v Zack Sabre Jr. – 2

Bad Luck Fale & Jay White v Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi – 1+

New Beginning in Sapporo Night 2

Toa Henare v Yota Tsuji – 1

Tiger Mask & Manabu Nakanishi v Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida – 1+

Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku v Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Ren Narita – 1

Taiji Ishimori, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa v Ryuske Taguchi, Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, & Tomoaki Honma – 1+

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, & YOSHI-HASHI v Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, & Chase Owens – 1

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championships – Shingo Takagi & BUSHI (c) v El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 2

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championships – EVIL & SANADA (c) v Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki – 2

IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Tetsuya Naito (c) v Taichi – 2+

New Beginning in Osaka

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jyushin Thunder Liger, & Satoshi Kojima v Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, & Taka Michinoku – 1+

EVIL & SANADA v Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida – 1

Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, & Shingo Takagi v Taichi, El Desperado, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 1+

Tomoaki Honma & YOSHI-HASHI v Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi – 0+

G.O.D. (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) v Togi Makabe & Toru Yano – 1

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – Taiji Ishimori (c) v Ryuske Taguchi – 2+

Bad Luck Fale v Kazuchika Okada – 1+

IWGP Heavyweight Championship – Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) v Jay White – 2+

NJPW: New Beginning USA in Nashville

While in Nashville for a conference weekend, I somehow scammed my wife into letting us stay late to attend the NJPW Nashville show in exchange for driving the 5 hours home afterward alone. The New Beginning USA tour was meant to be a step forward in a new and solid house show schedule for the US apart from the big shows like G1 Special. Nashville was an extra date added for who knows why but it just so happened we were in town that weekend. Certified fuckboy and rapist-president Donald Trump’s government shutdown over the useless border wall put a kibosh to New Japan’s plans to bring in Nagata and Ishii, but they assembled some of their finest gaijin to do the best show they could possibly put together on short notice.

Ring with the dress apron

Despite the lack of serious New Japan talent, the crowd was red hot and very open to being excited about the show. The L.A. dojo has heavily factored in to these US house shows, providing a role very similar to the Japanese Young Lions. Katsuyori Shibata came out to an extended standing ovation prior to the matches to apologize for the lack of Japanese talent but to assure that the dojo boys and the other wrestlers carried with them the spirit of New Japan. If the crowd was disappointed, they didn’t show it. They had long known what had occurred in booking and while the place wasn’t near sold out (specifically very few in the 2nd tier balcony), they were hyped as much as they possibly could be for the event.

It also turned out that the reports in the dirtsheets were correct and that this was the final appearance of Greg and Dustin in a New Japan ring. Maybe the weird gaijin-only show was an unfortunate unceremonious end to a promising and successful run (especially for Greg, who was a longtime tag star in the Junior ranks), but business is business. The boys were in Vegas a few days later to announce they had joined All Elite Wrestling, which was probably the least surprising thing ever. They always felt underused there despite Greg’s looming singles push, and Chuck should have been brought it much more on the English commentary. All-in-all the boys had to consider it a successful run. Who could have possibly imagined that Chuck Taylor, of all people, would headline a show for a major tournament (New Japan Cup 2018 night 4)?

Deathmatch Dustin, R.I.P.

As weird as the entire card was, it was honestly great. The matches were well done, wrestlers went out of their way to make it a cool show, and the dojo boys acquitted themselves marvelously. Alex Coughlin, in particular, looks like a potential superstar, but I want to make clear that everyone looked great. L.A. Dojo is not a vanity project, they are training guys who will truly be able to step into the mix at NJPW someday. If Shibata never enters a ring competitively again, and it’s likely he won’t, he’s doing work out there that actually may be vastly more important long term than competing in a ring or hanging around the Japanese Dojo.

Overall, there wasn’t a bad match on the bill. The 2nd and 3rd were fairly pedestrian but it was nice to get a live taste of the Great-O-Kharn (Tomoyuki Oka), who is developing a really cool martial arts/American heel brawler style that should immediately set him apart when he leaves excursion. The matches involving the Young Lions were standouts and the Cobb/King and CHAOS/Lifeblood eliminations were highly recommended if they ever put this show out on NJPW World. There was even an appearance by the legendary Tiger Hattori reffing the main event, which may have been the single biggest pop of the night.

It would be impossible not to think what might have been if this wasn’t basically an ROH show with the L.A. Dojo’s help, but they got by with a lot of help from their friends and delivered a really solid show with some nice appearances for a decent value over normal NJPW ticket prices. You can complain about the cards but if you buy tickets blind you’re kind of a mark anyway and I don’t really feel bad for you. I didn’t die on the solitary and foggy journey through rural Kentucky and Illinois, got a chance to say goodbye to the best boys and snap a photo with Deathmatch Dustin, eat some really shitty pizza in the rapidly gentrifying hellscape of Nashville, hold a four year old while she slept for three hours, and enjoy a fine night of almost-New Japan wrestling instead of being pissed off for having my weekend wasted.

Show Rating: B

Match Ratings

Alex Coughlin v Karl Fredericks – 1+

Lance Archer & Shane Taylor v Colt Cabana & Jonathan Gresham – 1

Great-O-Kharn v Harlem Bravado – 1

Clark Connors v Marty Scurll – 1+

Jeff Cobb v Brody King – 2

CHAOS (Beretta, Chuckie T, & Rocky Romero) v Lifeblood (David Finlay, Juice Robinson, & Tracy Williams) – Elimination match – 2